My parents never did anything malicious. And I was very fortunate to have healthy enough parents so that my brand of trauma was minimal compared to many. But they, like all of us were wounded in their childhoods and when those wounds are not tended to by the individual who holds them, they are passed down to the next generation.
As I grew and worked on myself and then began working with others, I learned. I came to know that we can hold compassion for those who hurt us, because they are (most often) not doing so with malicious intent. They are acting out because they are holding incredible unhealed pain within themselves. And they don’t know how to shift it. And this causes people to act out in an effort to release their pain.
So back to the parents. I began to realize that we can understand the truth of what happened without blame, but rather with compassion. We can recognize that another person is responsible for word or deed that causes us pain and still have compassion for them.
Two things to know - 1. It is our response to the other person, our perception of what they have done, the meaning we place on the event that has occurred that causes us pain. So if we tell ourselves the other person is hateful, malicious, does not love us… we will suffer in pain longer than we have to. If we understand, the other person has issues of their own that are informing their actions, that they actually do care for us, love us, but are not able to shift their behavior, then we can have compassion, and our pain lessens.
2. Having understanding and compassion for the other is not a free pass to treat us poorly. It is a healthy way to frame the situation so that we can respond in a healthy way. A healthy response often means, addressing the issue with love and compassion, expressing to the other how they have hurt us and setting a boundary. (It is another story, but yes, sometimes people don’t respect our boundaries no matter how many times we have set them. If this occurs, at some point, we must consider distancing from the other.)
Now as I work with others I simply say, we can hold compassion for the other even while we are holding pain, anger, frustration… for their actions or words. We can discuss the situation and set boundaries from a place of compassion and love, rather than a place of blame.
So, whether it be your parents, sibling, friend, boss, life partner, allow yourself to practice holding compassion even when you are angry. It may take practice, but it is helpful and healthy.
Still every once in a while I have to say - Oy, my mother…!